The Kochi-Koottanad-Bangalore gas pipeline being laid by GAIL India has been paused.

The Madras High Court has directed the authorities to maintain status quo for three weeks after a farmers’ organisation in Tamil Nadu, worried over the impact of pipeline burrowing through their land, moved court.

The pipeline tunnels through pieces of land in Coimbatore while on its way to Bangalore.

Farmers are worried on the utility of the land being brought under the project. The court has asked the government to look at the issues raised farmers.

The pipes will sink 5 metres below the ground level. Though and farmers can cultivate the land, but the presence of trees will not be permitted. Constructions will not be allowed on the land utilised by GAIL according to a Right of Use (RoU) of land clause of land acquisition rules.

GAIL has been buffeted by an upswing in compensation sought by farmers affected by the project. Since the company’s use of land ends with laying pipelines, the lands still rests with the farmers. Though the compensation offered for limited use of land is 10 per cent of the land value, GAIL is ready to pay more. But the demand for steep hike has been raised at certain places.

The opposition to the laying of pipeline has partially come from lobbies demanding huge compensation, there are also cases of hapless landowners with small holdings. A senior official of GAIL said the wrangling had to be sorted out at the government level. The official hoped the project could resume work after three weeks.

The work on pipeline from Kochi has been progressing at a slow pace. The work is being taken up in Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikkode and Kasaragode districts. The gas pipeline connecting Dabhol LNG terminal in Maharashtra and Bangalore went on stream a week ago. The commissioning of pipeline from Kochi to Bangalore will be crucial in ensuring a link from Kerala to the national gas grid.